Our bodies and minds are intrinsically linked in far more than the obvious ways. Yes, there's the nervous system connection, but our body can also convey our true thoughts—even if we don't speak them aloud. There are several tells that can give us away, in which our limbs betray the emotion we're trying to express (or not express).
Knowledge of these tells can help you in many social situations, as not only can you use them to control conversations, but you can also pick up on when a person doesn't like you, no matter how hard they try to keep it hidden.
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At some point in your life, you will be forced to speak with someone you'd really rather not. Maybe you're not a fan of theirs for some small reason, or perhaps it's more than that and you actively dislike this person. However, you have to remain cordial and polite in this discussion, leaving them unaware of your feelings about them.
Do you think you're good at hiding your true emotions? Do you know your tells? Or, maybe you've been on the opposite end of this situation before, talking to someone while being unsure if they really want to be there or not.
Thankfully, there are actually a few ways to catch if someone you're chatting with doesn't like you, and once you're aware of these signs, you can also avoid them when speaking to someone you don't like.
It all comes down to body language, as there's plenty that our bodies give away without us even noticing. Studies into the art of body language revealed that it accounts for 35% of all in-person human communication, meaning it's incredibly important to keep what our body is saying in check.
Shutting Someone Out
First, let's identify signs that someone doesn't like you as told by their body. A relatively easy type of body language to read is called 'closed-off body language'. This manifests as crossed arms or legs, a torso positioned away from you, and feet angled towards an exit.
This positioning of their body displays an unwillingness to listen to what you're saying, a lack of interest in the conversation, or a desire to leave the situation entirely. All are pretty blunt signs that this person doesn't wish to speak to you at that moment.
Keeping An Eye On Them
Up next is the reading of facial expressions and all that comes with it. For example, eye contact. Consistent eye contact is good, as even if you don't match it the entire time, it shows that the other person is listening and focusing on you as a speaker. Make sure though that it doesn't venture into glaring territory, which can communicate hostility or annoyance.
If someone is pursing their lips or touching their neck while also breaking eye contact often, those are signs that their attention has been pulled away from you and they're now focused elsewhere.
Then, there's tone of voice, which can be hit or miss when it comes to interpreting. Some people are very good at controlling their tone and masking the true feelings behind it, while others speak flatly all the time no matter the situation. Assessing someone's tone of voice is best paired with other visual cues to accurately interpret others' emotions.
With that said, any sort of grumpy, disinterested, or bored tone paired with short, dismissive answers is a signifier that the person you're with doesn't want to be there.
Keep Copying Me
Now, what about signs that someone does want to be around you? There's one very simple sign that almost everyone does subconsciously that can help assure you that someone absolutely wants to be spending time with you.
It's called 'mirroring'. When people mirror, they copy the movements of the person they're conversing with. Not to an extreme degree where it becomes creepy, but enough that it's clear they're picking up on your own body language and incorporating it into their behavior. They might adjust themselves in their chair moments after you do, or tilt their head the same way, picking up on the little things and copying them as proof that they're engaged in what's happening.
A Lifelong Tool
The American Psychological Association explains that mirroring is a neurological function of our brains that taps into the age-old experience of watching others to learn how to behave. This is a type of behavior we engage in from a very young age, as watching the people around us is how we learn to speak, walk, and act as we grow up.
There's also been research that proves that mirroring only occurs when speaking to someone you're fond of, and tends not to show up when speaking to someone you don't care for, meaning it's safe to bet on when judging someone's desire to be with you.
Putting It To Use
The ability to read, understand, and manipulate body language is an art form. It has very practical applications, as it's used by salespeople and others involved in business dealings to get closer to their clients, but it's not just a tool to coerce others either. It's a beautiful way to communicate without words and can demonstrate a touching level of closeness between two people.
When you've grown so fond of someone that you don't even need to say the words to explain how much you enjoy spending time with them, there's something magical about that.
Not 100% Accurate
It's also worth noting that body language reading isn't foolproof. A good friend of yours might be tired one day, thus slouching and crossing their arms more. That doesn't mean they suddenly don't like you despite your past friendship, it just means their body is lacking some of the rest it needs.
It's good practice to not let the reading of body language get to your head. We all want to be liked, it's a natural human instinct, but stressing yourself out reading the positioning and expressions of every person you speak to looking for signs of distrust will only stress you out.
Above All Else
What's more important than being able to analyze minute movements or changes in tone is being able to accept ourselves for who we are, and that includes all the reasons that any person might not be a fan of ours. After all, we all have people we dislike for seemingly no reason, and there's no saying we can't also be the victim of that.
Identifying problem areas so you can work on them and become better is great so long as you don't consider your entire self a problem area. You, as a fundamental human being, do not need to change, and don't let anyone's angled torsos or lack of mirroring convince you otherwise.